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Research Notes

A couple of years ago, I joined Thomas MacEntee’s Genealogy Do-Over project. The primary thing I learned from participating in this project dealt with a need for continual learning. Thanks to this push, I am learning from many other researchers thru blogs, webinars, YouTube videos, Facebook posts and even tweets. Each of these challenges me to think about my research methods.

This last Mondays with Myrt discussed compiling research notes to support information shared in a tree. Most of the discussion centered around the need for such notes.  During the Wacky Wednesday zoom meeting, participants discussed a research question and worked thru creating research notes on a spreadsheet.

As I participated in both of these events, I was thinking about how I haven’t done a good job of compiling research notes. I recently watched one of Crista Cowan’s Barefoot Genealogist videos on how Crista uses the NOTES feature with her Ancestry tree.

Based on the concepts shared in this video, I have started creating similar notes for my direct line ancestors. To start creating these research notes, I am using a Microsoft Word document so that I can have the notes open and my RootsMagic screen open at the same time. As I work my way thru the various events and associated citations, I am also doing the transcribing, attaching images and updating the sources as needed (in other words a true go-over).

When finished, I copied the text from the Word document and pasted it into the person’s note field. By using the TreeShare feature of RootsMagic, I can upload those notes to the corresponding person on my Ancestry tree.


Even though it will take time to create all of these research notes, I find them helpful and will likely spend the time working thru my tree.

One of the points made during Mondays with Myrt was the need to not only keep such research notes — but to share those notes. Based on Crista’s video on notes, I don’t believe the person notes that I transfer from RootsMagic to Ancestry are public.

AncestryProfile-Notes-Example360bHowever, notes attached to an event can be transferred from RootsMagic to Ancestry. With TreeShare, these notes get separated from the source and appear in the list of sources separate from the original source. Thus, this isn’t an ideal way to share these notes.

In order to share these notes, I could include Notes when uploading data to my RootsMagic website. If that option is selected, the person notes appear at the top of the page in a scrollable box.


Like others mentioned in the Mondays with Myrt chat, I am reluctant to put all of my work online since I would like for other researchers to contact me versus just copying my sources, transcriptions and photos. However, if I want others to understand why I connected a son to his father, I likely need to create and share these notes. This will become critical if Ancestry pursues ‘peer review’ of member trees. (See post in the Ancestry.com Facebook community by Crista Cowan)

In the chat log for the Monday’s with Myrt, Tony Proctor makes a case for publishing research notes in a blog (at 10:51:32). Tony also added a comment to the Mondays with Myrt post where he pushed for research notes that discuss the ‘why’ versus those that just restate the ‘what’. He argues for a ‘rich-text’ format that includes items such as scanned images, maps, timelines and tables. By including these items, one can draw the reader from the raw data thru the reasoning to a conclusion. This would be similar to what the genealogical proof standard refers to as a sound and coherently written conclusion.

Because of the need to incorporate images and a variety of formatting, I believe I will have to share them thru a blog versus thru the person notes. Once I manage to write a research conclusion that includes the ‘why’, I will also need to figure out the best way to attach that conclusion to my tree.

Thinking thru this process, I have a couple of questions:

  • Is a blog post the best way to share a written conclusion incorporating images and a variety of formatting?
  • If research notes are published in a blog post, how would one connect them to a person (or persons) in a tree?

Thank you Dear Myrtle, Mondays with Myrt panel members and everyone who participated this week for pushing me to not only think thru the process of writing research notes but to actually work on writing them.

3 thoughts on “Research Notes

  1. Why not treat your own blog post as a source and cite it just as you would any other online course?

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